Updates December 2010

 

 

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  We seek to keep you literally "updated" on movement in terms of truth and justice in the Middle East in general with a particular eye on Palestine.  The links below will take you to various articles and websites that offer the perspective of leaders in the religious, NGO, and human rights communities. Additionally, Al-Bushra, ever vigilant, provides links to regular reporting as well as opinion pieces by journalists. The dates given here indicate when the link was posted; the most recent posting is at the top. Check the article itself for the date of publication.  
     
 

Comments made over the years by Israeli leaders

 
     
 

31 December 2010 07:41:32 -0800

 
     
 
 

Dec. 31, 2010

Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) and Operation Dove - Nonviolent Peace Corps of the Association “Comunità Papa Giovanni XXIII” | THE DANGEROUS ROAD TO EDUCATION

Salah is a 12-year-old Palestinian boy who likes to play football and eat chicken maqlubeh, a traditional dish of rice and meat. He lives in the village of Tuba, ocated about 15 kilometers southeast of Hebron, and attends school in At-Tuwani, a village about 2.5 kilometers west of his home. With other children of Tuba, as well as the village of Maghayir Al-Abeed, Salah walks to school. The children typically take the shortest route: the main Palestinian road that connects their villages with At-Tuwani and is encroached by the Israeli settlement of Ma’on on one side and the Israeli outpost of Havat Ma’on (also known as Hill 833) on the other.1 Because of ongoing Israeli settler violence against the school children, the Israeli military escorts the children on the section of the road that passes between the settlement and the outpost on their way to and from school.

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Dec. 27, 2010

Sabbah Report | No such thing as justice in the Holy Land, Palestinian Church leaders tell the Irish by Stuart Littlewood

"We need only one thing, to be protected by the world against the crimes of
Israel"

Outside the Irish Parliament. Left to Right: Alan Lonergan (SADAKA), Constantine Dabbagh, Fr Manuel Musallam, John Ging, Archbishop Theodosius Hanna

We are not here as politicians, they said. We come as representatives of the various churches in Jerusalem.

But the trio from the Holy Land showed they were more than a match for Western politicians who fancy they know all about the Middle East.

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Dec. 27, 2010

Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land | Christmas Message of the Rt. Rev. Dr. Munib Younan, Bishop of the ELCJHL

...There are many issues today that cause us to fear: health problems like cancer and diseases like HIV/ AIDS, economic issues like job loss and decreasing funds for retirement, family issues like divorce or the death of a spouse, environmental issues like global warming and disappearing natural resources, international tensions and the development of more destructive weaponry, extremism in politics and religion. Once again we need a Christmas angel proclaiming, “Fear not!”

Yes, here at Christmas time 2010 in the Middle East, we once again long for a heavenly angel to comfort us with these words, “Fear not!”

Our people are in danger of drowning in fear. Many Christians in many parts of the Middle East are increasingly cowering in fear and becoming timid in their witness. Just a little over a month ago in Baghdad at Our Lady of Salvation Church terrorists gunned down two priests and fifty-one defenseless worshippers. Since then, another three were killed in Mosul and an elderly Christian couple were murdered in their own home in Baghdad. So how do Christians respond? In an Associated Press story, one woman, afraid to give her name, said she lives in a constant state of fear, keeping her children indoors and out of school. In less than fifteen years, the number of Christians in Iraq has declined from one and a quarter million to only 400,000. For centuries Christians and Muslims have lived side by side, yet today religious extremists are holding hostage the moderate majority, Christian and Muslim alike. Iraqi Christians are once again in need of a Christmas angel proclaiming “Fear not!”

...Here in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, including Jordan, we are not facing the same problems of persecution as our sisters and brothers in many countries of the Middle East. There may be social and political problems, but we thank God for the religious freedom we enjoy. Here Christians today number only 1.4 % of the population with many Arab Christians emigrating because of the political situation and the lack of willingness and resolve to bring about a just peace, because of lack of jobs, because of lack of housing, because of the difficulty of travel, and because of the rise of extremism on both sides.

Palestinians and Israelis today face a common enemy: fear. In the absence of justice and peace, the common denominator is fear. Fear of the other. Fear for the future. Fear that freedom is not coming. Fear that children will grow in hatred. Fear of insecurity. Fear of the occupation. Fear is our common prison that keeps us locked up in cycles of mistrust and shattered dreams. It is a fear that builds non-productive “facts on the ground”. It is a fear that will only ever vanish when there is peace based on justice and reconciliation built on forgiveness. We proclaim that such a just peace is possible today. We pray that all political leaders will seize the opportunity before it is too late. The same message of the first Christmas rings true today, “Fear not!” There is a child who was born into a world of fear in order to take away that fear and to bring peace to earth and good will to humankind.

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Dec. 26, 2010

Window into Palestine | Another Christmas under Siege in the Holy Land by Father Father Dr. Faisal Hijazin, Parish Priest of the Holy Family Catholic Church in Ramallah

The heart of Bethlehem is not the Church of the Nativity, the Franciscan St. Catherine’s Catholic Church or Manger Square, nor the many other places of worship found in this holy city. It is not Rachel’s tomb, now surrounded by a curtain of iron built to sever it from Bethlehem. Rather, in truth, the heart of Bethlehem is the community of believers that, by its presence, has kept the birthplace of Jesus tended, remembered and venerated since the time that Our Savior appeared on earth, born of a virgin, to save us from our sins. During all these centuries, Bethlehem has remained a Christian community.

This Christmas, Christians around the world will be singing such Christmas Carols as “O Little Town of Bethlehem” without knowing that in truth, they could soon be singing of a town where you can no longer find the living presence of Christ, the community of those baptized into his body, the Church; “O Lost Town of Bethlehem” could be a more accurate sentiment when Christian awake to find that the Christian presence in this small holy city has, after 2,000 years, come to an end. The fact is that this is a community that has been suffocating under military occupation, and all the restriction of liberty – particularly separation from family living very short distances away due to the “Wall of Separation” -, that this subjection to arbitrary regulations and threat of imminent violence carries with it. The prolongation, decade after decade, of these circumstances, means that Christians are leaving their beloved city to seek places where they can raise their families where they can live, work and pray with the dignity of human beings. This is perhaps an accusation of our failure to willingly suffer all things in Christ. Though our faith has sustained us for many years, yet, failing to see change coming, many, and ever more, opt for places that offer brighter futures.

...Christians here too are discouraged when they see that many of their brothers and sisters in Christ from the United States actively support the policies that are emptying the land of Christ from its Christian population. They feel rejected by their own. Would it be not more fitting in the name of the Prince of Peace to call for justice and equality for all? If Christians are friends of Israel, do not friends urge their friends towards virtue? If they do not, are they indeed friends?

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Dec. 25, 2010

Zenit | Patriarch Underlines Role of Family, Value of Life

Says Christ Child Teaches Forgiveness and Reconciliation

BETHLEHEM, West Bank, DEC. 25, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The birth of Christ teaches the faithful many lessons, including the importance of family and the value of life, says the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem.

Patriarch Fouad Twal reflected on the lessons to be learned from the Incarnation during Midnight Mass at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, which was attended by Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian National Authority, as well as its prime minister, Salam Fayad.

"Christmas is a feast for all the people of the Holy Land," began Patriarch Twal, "and for all who bring about peace and reconciliation."

He reflected on the birth of Christ, who was born in a cave, "teaching us humility, meekness, simplicity, and innocence, that we often forget in a world marked by violence and desire for power."

The Christ Child, he continued, was also "born into a loving family, which was an experience of love."

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Dec. 25, 2010

Zenit | Jerusalem Patriarch's Christmas Message

"It Is Time to Commit Ourselves Together for a Genuine, True and Long-lasting Peace"

JERUSALEM, DEC. 24, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is the text of the Christmas message delivered by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Fouad Twal.

* * *

Christmas Message 2010

I welcome all of you journalists present here and thank you for your role in providing information and conscience formation, and for your commitment to the truth. The message of the recent Synod recognized your role: "We appreciate the role of the means of social communication, both printed and audio-visual. We thank you journalists for your collaboration with the Church in broadcasting her teachings and activities." (Nuntius 4.4)

To all of you and all the people of Israel, Palestine, Jordan and Cyprus, I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year full of surprises at the global, local, and personal levels, and a year of peace and prosperity.

I greet the Bishops here present: Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, our Patriarchal Vicar in Israel, and our new Auxiliary Bishop and Patriarchal Vicar for Jerusalem and the Palestinian Territories, Bishop William Shomali, who was ordained last May and comes with a new energy to help us in our mission. I also welcome Rev. Fr. David Neuhaus, SJ, our Patriarchal Vicar in Israel for the Hebrew-speaking Catholic community.

Like last year, I would like to present the important events that have happened this year, here in our Patriarchate. I would like to emphasize above all the positive events without, however, excluding the suffering and the concerns that remain.

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Dec. 25, 2010

Zenit | Bethlehem Hospital Grows

Children Cared for in the Land of Jesus' Birth

BETHLEHEM, DEC. 24, 2010 (Zenit.org).- An expanded Caritas Baby Hospital was inaugurated in Bethlehem, with new facilities for training mothers how to care for their children.

In the city of Jesus' birth, this hospital maintained by international donations opened a "School for Mothers," where the mothers of hospitalized children will reside and be given formation to be able to look after their children better. An outpatients clinic is now also available.

The hospital dates back to Christmas of 1952, when Swiss priest Father Ernst Schnydrig, on pilgrimage in Bethlehem, saw a father burying his son who had died because of a lack of medical care.

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Dec. 24, 2010

AFP: Yahoo News | Crowds pack Bethlehem to hear message of peace

BETHLEHEM, Palestinian Territories (AFP) – The Middle East's senior Catholic cleric called for peace and reconciliation in a traditional Christmas Eve midnight mass before thousands in the birthplace of Jesus Christ.

"During this Christmas season, may the sound of the bells of our churches drown the noise of weapons in our wounded Middle East," Latin Patriarch Fuad Twal told an audience that included Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

Pilgrims from around the world gathered in St. Catherine's Church on Bethlehem's Manger Square to hear the traditional address in the city where Christians believe Jesus Christ was born.

As peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians remain stalled, Twal offered a vision of a better, more peaceful future.

"Our hope for Christmas is that Jerusalem not only becomes the capital of two nations, but also a model for the world, of harmony and coexistence of the three monotheistic religions."

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Dec. 24, 2010

AFP: Yahoo News | Christmas in Bethlehem Slideshow

140 photos

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Dec. 24, 2010

AP on Yahoo News | Bethlehem celebrates merriest Christmas in years

BETHLEHEM, West Bank – The traditional birthplace of Jesus is celebrating its merriest Christmas in years, as tens of thousands of tourists thronged Bethlehem on Friday for the annual holiday festivities in this biblical West Bank town.

Officials said the turnout was shaping up to be the largest since 2000. Unseasonably mild weather, a virtual halt in Israeli-Palestinian violence and a burgeoning economic revival in the West Bank all added to the holiday cheer.

By nightfall, a packed Manger Square was awash in red, blue, green and yellow Christmas lights.

Merrymakers blasted horns, bands sang traditional Christmas carols in Arabic, boy scout marching bands performed and Palestinian policemen deployed around the town to keep the peace.

A group of 30 tourists from Papua New Guinea, all wearing red Santa hats, walked around the nearby Church of the Nativity, built on the site where tradition holds Jesus was born. Both church officials and the Palestinian president voiced hopes for peace.

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Dec. 24, 2010

9 News at a Glance, Australia | Tourists flock to Bethlehem

Record numbers of tourists have arrived in Bethlehem to celebrate Christmas at the site traditionally believed to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ..

A large number of people — from both the Christian and Muslim communities — are gathering at the Church of the Nativity in Manger Square in the West Bank for carols and a Mass.

The tourist boom has boosted the economy with shopkeepers reporting strong sales in souvenirs and Christmas themed items.

See photos

 

Dec. 24, 2010

Zenit | Order Helps Descendants of Bethlehem Shepherds

Cardinal Recommends Spiritual Visit to Nativity Scene

ROME, DEC. 21, 2010 (Zenit.org).- As our thoughts naturally turn to Bethlehem in the final days before Christmas, Cardinal John Foley is urging a manifestation of solidarity with the descendants of those who lived in Bethlehem some 2,000 years ago and were among the first to adore God-made-man.

The cardinal made this appeal Saturday in Rome's Basilica of St. John Lateran, during a Mass of investiture for the new members of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.

Cardinal Foley is grand master of the order, which is dedicated to, among other things, helping Christians of the Holy Land.

"In these days before Christmas, it is easy to remember the Holy Land," the American cardinal said. "Our thoughts go spontaneously to Bethlehem and to Mary and Joseph."

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Dec. 24, 2010

Zenit | An Arab Seminarian's Reflection on Christmas

"Direct Your Spiritual Senses to the Current Prayers and Cries of Our Persecuted Brothers"

CHICAGO, DEC. 23, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is a letter from Khalil Hattar, an Arab-American seminarian studying for the Archdiocese of Chicago at St. Joseph College Seminary in Chicago, Illinois. The letter reflects on the situation of Christians in the Middle East. Hattar's parents both immigrated from Jordan to the United States in the late 1980s.

* * *

...we, too, must surrender our lives to Christ by coming to the aid of our Christian brothers and sisters who are being martyred in Iraq, persecuted in the Holy Land and forced into hiding and exile across the region for the sake of righteousness. Be attentive to their plight, as they are forced to endure oppression and even death for the name of Jesus. We must be careful not to turn into the inn keepers of Bethlehem who would not respond to the pleas of Mary and Joseph in their time of need, but rather, may the Spirit of Wisdom, dwelling within each of us, motivate you to do all you can for the least of our brothers and sisters as you would do for Christ. Like Jesus and his earliest disciples, they are being targeted for their witness of faith and this cannot stand. As a people of God, sharers of the one Bread, united in one Spirit, work tirelessly on behalf of the people of the Middle East that they may remain for us as pillars of faith in the land which contained the mysteries of our salvation. This task should not be perceived as an obligation or a strain, but, tempered with gentleness, invite the Holy Spirit to assist you "for us to live is to live with constant assent to Jesus, His Kingdom and His readiness to save all people!"

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Dec. 23, 2010

World Council of Churches | Christmas Message

The nativity of Jesus Christ is proclaimed by angelic choirs in the heights of heaven, and the joyous news is echoed afterwards by modest shepherds in fields near Bethlehem. Meanwhile, a mother and father care for their newborn child. No place for this family could be found in the inn, so they shelter among livestock. The circumstances are strikingly humble, yet their infant is the occasion of the angels’ song:

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude

of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,

and on earth peace among those whom God favours!”

Luke 2:13-14

The splendour of Christmas highlights many contrasts in our surroundings. First of all – it is all about what we are given – surprisingly – by God. This revelation of glory in heaven is given to people living off the land, dependent on simple blessings found in fields and farmyards, in caring for sheep and celebrating a new birth. It is they who first hear the promise of so much more than bare survival or the simplest pleasure. They dare to imagine the real possibility of peace on earth. The song of angels encourages them to give glory to God alone and to seek peace with others, far and near.

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Dec. 23, 2010

World Council of Churches | Women offer theological perspectives on "Kairos Palestine"

Thirty women gathered in Bethlehem on 13-18 December to celebrate the first anniversary of the “Kairos Palestine” document on the quest for peace and human rights in Palestine and Israel. The gathering also reflected theologically on the content of the text. Participants came from the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Europe, North and Latin America and Australia.

The group represented different ecclesial traditions and included one member of the Jewish faith. They were lay, ordained, theologians, ecumenical and church leaders, and many are engaged in social action. The Bethlehem gathering was sponsored by the World Council of Churches (WCC) office on Women in Church and Society and by the Palestine-Israel Ecumenical Forum.

The women also experienced the visible reality of the occupation of Palestine during visits to Israeli checkpoints and encounters with the Separation Wall. They united around a common hope for the end of the occupation and a call for just peace.

The women embraced “listening as a mark of solidarity”: a form of participation during the meeting and a point of origin for the just peacemaking work to be done following the meeting. Faith, hope and love expressed through just peace were themes within "Kairos Palestine" that these women found particularly inspiring.

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Dec. 21, 2010

This Week in Palestine | Shibat, Rocking Christmas by Margo Sabella

Christmas is often associated with the usual Santas, red and gold decorations and blinking lights. But for the past three years, Shibat has become the refreshing new tradition during the Christmas season in Palestine; one that young and old look forward to each year.

This group of six rocks audiences with old Christmas favourites played to Rock & Roll tunes, making it more of a party and less of a musical concert, where audiences interact and leave the show with a sense of wellbeing, faces all aglow. Ringing in the Christmas season has never been more fun for the entire family.

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Dec. 20, 2010

Wallwritings | The "Little Town of Bethlehem" Still Waits for Its Stolen Democracy by the Reverend James M. Wall [Methodist]

A new Palestinian parliament was elected in the Occupied Territories on January 25, 2006. One month from this Christmas, Palestinians should have been celebrating the fifth anniversary of that democratic, internationally-monitored, election.

There will be no celebration in January, 2011. Instead, Bethlehem, the West Bank, and Gaza still wait for the democracy that was stolen from them.

Palestinians remain trapped in a military occupation the Israeli government forced the world to accept because the “wrong” party won.

For one brief shining moment, before the 2006 results were rewritten to fit the Zionist narrative, democracy lived in the land where Christ was born.

In a story of rare candor for a major American news outlet writing about Israel, on January 26, 2006, the Washington Post reported the elections fairly. The Post began its coverage:

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Dec. 18, 2010

Desertpeace | Hakenkreuz and Davidstern: The Swastika and the Star of David by the Reverend Alvin Alexsi Currier

A public response to New York Times columnist Roger Cohen

By Alvin Alexsi Currier

On June tenth, 2010, New York Times columnist Roger Cohen posted a poignant meditation, weaving his personal joy in the ancient melodies of Judaic tradition, occasioned by the Bat Mitzvah of his daughter, with his personal pain over the staccato rhythms of international news and reaction occasioned by the Israeli interception of the Freedom Flotilla off Gaza.

It was a beautifully written piece. I felt for him.

Suddenly in this sorrowful contrapuntal flow, a cacophony exploded. The cause of this drum roll of rage was a comment by the Turkish Prime Minister who said that now the world perceived the Swastika and the Star of David together.

Ach, ja, I thought in German; Hakenkreuz und Davidstern.

Instantly I knew his rage. I felt his pain.

You see, I was a Pastor in the German Church. I know the pain of seeing the Fatherland I loved go feral. I may have been young and distant when it all started but I have tasted the rage of watching the Swastika gather to itself all things German and then carry them to ignominy in Auschwitz.

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Dec. 15, 2010

Zenit | Vatican: Let Peace Begin in Jerusalem

Cardinal Turkson Sends Note for Holy Land Prayer Day

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 15, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace is asking for peace on earth, and that it begin in Jerusalem.

Cardinal Peter Turkson wrote this in his message for the Third International Day of Intercession for Peace in the Holy Land. Bishop Mario Toso, the dicastery's secretary, also signed the note, which was released today.

The prayer initiative, which is organized by several Catholic youth associations, will take place Jan. 29-30.

The annual event began in 2009, when faithful from some 500 cities around the world joined in a common prayer for peace. Last January, some 1,103 cities worldwide joined Benedict XVI, Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the custos of the Holy Land, and Archbishop Fouad Twal, the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, to participate in the prayer for peace.

Organizers say that groups from more than 2,000 cities have already confirmed participation in this year's event.

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Dec. 15, 2010

Zenit | Jesuit Honored for Saving 3 Jewish Children

Pair of Brothers, Cousin Hid Among Catholic School Students

By Anita S. Bourdin

ROME, DEC. 15, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Graziano Sonnino and Marco Pavoncello remember Jesuit Father Raffaele de Ghantuz Cubbe for his courage and goodness. It was that courage and goodness that saved their lives, along with the life of Sonnino's brother Mario.

The Sonninos and Pavoncello, as young Italian Jews, were saved from the Holocaust when Father Cubbe hid the children at his Jesuit school. Their surname was changed to Sbardella, a southern name of the region of Cassino, which had been bombed by the Allies, meaning their identity was impossible to verify.

Father Cubbe (1904-1983) was recognized Tuesday in Rome with the honor of Righteous Among the Nations, the title bestowed by the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.

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Dec. 15, 2010

Sojourners | Middle East Martyr-Christians by Gary M. Burge, Ph.D., Professor of New Testament at Wheaton College

One of the most precious artifacts I have in my office isn’t an ancient coin or oil lamp. It is a business card. From northern Iraq.

Monther Al-Saka handed it to me just after I preached a sermon in his church, Mosul’s Evangelical Presbyterian Church. They served fried chicken after worship (”Don’t all Americans love fried chicken?” he asked), we exchanged hugs, and I went on my way. But on Dec. 1, 2006, Monther was martyred — for being a Christian leader in the chaos we now call Iraq. He was standing on the front porch of the church — he had been warned by Sunni extremists to flee or die, but he stood his ground. And a bullet from a car met him on a Sunday morning.

Monther is the only martyr I have ever personally known. In 2008, I saw his wife at a conference and realized that though she was alive, she too had suffered martyrdom. Something had died within her, and it was palpable.

All of this came rushing back to me when I read the news reports in November about what had happened in Baghdad on Oct. 31. Gunmen stormed the Sayidat al-Nejat Syriac Catholic Cathedral in central Baghdad, shot its young priest (whose dying words were, “I am a martyr for Jesus”), and then in the melee that followed, killed 57 people and wounded many more. After four hours, the church was stormed by Iraqi and American troops. The incident was denounced by many good people, and responsibility for it was claimed by others for whom assaults on Christians is a deadly political strategy. It was hardly mentioned in the American media.

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Dec. 14, 2010

Sadaka. Ireland-Palestine Alliance | Palestinian Church Leaders Tour Itinerary

We are Arab Christians.

See the photo journal of the seven-day program.

 

Dec. 14, 2010

ENT | Israel expects 90,000 Christmas tourists

Dec 13, 2010

The Tourism Ministry is preparing for the expected arrival in Israel of 90,000 tourists over the Christmas period (which is celebrated over a two week period by the different churches) - about one third of them pilgrims. The tourists and pilgrims are expected to visit the holy sites and participate in the masses to be held in Bethlehem and Nazareth.

The Tourism Ministry is working in cooperation with the heads of the Christian communities in Israel, the Israel Police, mayors, the Coordination and Liaison Administration (DCO), the Palestinian Tourism Authority and other relevant bodies in order to facilitate a speedy and welcoming entry and departure from Israel and ensure a pleasant visiting experience.

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Dec. 14, 2010

Sadaka, Ireland-Palestine Alliance | Palestine: A Christian Response to Occupation by Dr. David Morrison

In December 2009, Palestinian Christians published the Kairos Palestine Document. Its authors describe it as “the Christian Palestinians’ word to the world about what is happening in Palestine”. In it, they request the international community “to stand by the Palestinian people who have faced oppression, displacement, suffering and clear apartheid for more than six decades” and to bring pressure to bear on Israel to end the occupation of Palestinian land.

In November 2010, Sadaka is hosting a tour of Ireland by Palestinian church leaders, H.E. Archbishop Theodosius Hanna of the Greek Orthodox Church, Monsignor Manuel Musallam of the Latin Catholic Church and Mr Constantine Dabbagh, Executive Secretary of the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) Department of Service for Palestinian Refugees in Gaza. The purpose of the tour is to enable these leaders to bring this message personally to church and political leaders in Ireland.

This booklet presents an outline of the facts and figures about Christians in Palestine, followed by key passages from the Kairos Document.

The Catholic Church held a Synod of Bishops for the Middle East in the Vatican from 10-24 October 2010. The third section of this booklet presents key conclusions of the Synod in respect of Palestine.

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Dec. 12, 2010

Zenit | Pope Sends Prayers to Victims of Israeli Forest Fire

Holy See Meets With Israeli Commission; Takes Up Negotiations With Palestinians

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 10, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is assuring his prayers for the victims of the four-day forest fire that took the lives of more than 40 people in Israel last week.

This was announced in a statement today from the Vatican regarding the Thursday plenary meeting of the Bilateral Permanent Working Commission between the Holy See and the State of Israel.

The Holy See welcomed that meeting, as well as talks held two days earlier with the Palestine Liberation Organization.

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Dec. 9, 2010

Zenit | Iraqi Bishops to Address European Parliament

Archbishop Louis Sako Awarded for Peace Work

STRASBOURG, France, DEC. 9, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Next week a delegation of Iraqi bishops will address the European Parliament in Strasbourg about the situation of Christians in their country.

"We want Europe and the West to put pressure on the Iraqi government to guarantee the rights of Christians and of religious minorities," explained Syrian Catholic Archbishop Georges Casmoussa of Mosul.

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Dec. 9, 2010

Christians for Middle East Peace | Advent Reflection: Patience Is Not Waiting by the Reverend Doris Warrell

Having been raised in Ohio, I felt a small-town kinship when I first moved to the Palestinian village of Beit-Jala, just south of Jerusalem. Connection to the land came from the sense of purpose and fulfillment that working the land gives people. Being in close relationship to the Creator through cultivating a harvest and providing for one's family and community can give people who do this work a profound fulfillment.

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Dec. 1, 2010

Zenit | US Bishops Laud Congress Support for Iraqi Victims

Urge Passage of House Resolution

WASHINGTON, D.C., DEC. 1, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The U.S. bishops are commending a resolution in the House of Representatives that condemns the recent attacks on Iraqi Christians and calls for protection of religious minorities.

A press release from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops reported that this resolution urges the U.S. government to work with Iraqi authorities to protect these minorities.

Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany, New York, chairman of conference's Committee on International Justice and Peace, and Archbishop José Gómez, coadjutor archbishop of Los Angeles and chairman of the Committee on Migration, wrote a Nov. 29 letter to congressmen urging the passage of House Resolution 1725.

This resolution was introduced Nov. 18 by Chris Smith.

The bishops expressed support for the resolution's emphasis "on developing a comprehensive plan to improve security for religious minorities and to increase their representation in the government of Iraq and to include them in all aspects of Iraqi society."

The prelates also expressed support for the resolution's condemnation of the Oct. 31 attack on the Syrian Catholic Church of Our Lady of Salvation in Baghdad that left 58 dead.

They noted that this attack, as well as "the continuing violence against Christians are horrific reminders of the appalling lack of security that has condemned many in Iraq to live in fear."

The bishops stated, "We sincerely hope that H. Res. 1725 will be adopted quickly by the House of Representatives as we believe it will help improve security for all Iraqis, especially Christians and other vulnerable minorities."

They added, "We hope it will contribute to the overall goal of achieving a 'responsible transition' that will reduce further loss of life and address the refugee crisis in Iraq."

Permanlink

 

Dec. 1, 2010

Zenit | Pope Greets Baghdad Cathedral Attack Victims

Pope Greets Baghdad Cathedral Attack Victims

Expresses His Closeness to Persecuted Christians

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 1, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI met privately today with a group of Iraqis who were wounded in the Oct. 31 massacre in Baghdad's Syrian Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, told ZENIT that the Pope received a group of about 50 people after the weekly general audience, which was held in Paul VI Hall.

Rome's Gemelli Polyclinic accepted about 26 injured survivors of the attack, including 16 women, three children and seven men. They were transferred by plane from Baghdad together with 21 relatives.

The attack left 58 dead and more than 100 wounded. France also welcomed over 70 of the injured Iraqis for hospital care.

Father Lombardi reported that Archbishop Fernando Filoni, substitute of the Secretariat of State, accompanied the group: "He had already visited the injured at Gemelli a few days ago, after their arrival, and feels especially close to the country and the Iraqi Christians, as he was the nuncio in Iraq during the most dramatic moments of the conflict."

"The Pope greeted them all one by one and spoke a few impromptu words of closeness, comfort and prayer," the spokesman added. "They showed him photographs of some bombing victims."

Father Lombardi explained that the meeting was a "further way of manifesting the great closeness and concern of the Pope and the universal Church over the fate of Christians, not only in Iraq, but also in other areas of the Middle East and the world, in which they are victims of violence and injustice."

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